COUDERSPORT — Following a special board meeting last Wednesday, the Coudersport Area School District planned to allow more spectators to attend its athletics events.
The decision was temporarily flipped the following day, after gathering limits were restored by a Federal Appeals Court. But now the district is back on track with opening up its venues more. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine amended existing COVID-19 orders to allow for adjusted capacity to gathering limits.
Starting on Friday, Oct. 9 the amended orders will allow for venue occupancy limits to play a bigger role in determining the number of people permitted both inside and outside of events or gatherings, according to a press release from the department of health.
Coudersport schools plan to allow spectators at indoor and outdoor events up to 20% capacity of the venue it’s in, Drew Kyle told the Potter Leader-Enterprise Wednesday morning. The 20% capacity does not include the players and participants. Masks and social distancing will be required.
A certain amount of tickets will be issued to each player, based on the team and the venue. Tickets will not intentionally be given to visiting spectators at this time. If a player wants to give one of their tickets to someone from outside of the Coudersport community, they can.
A list of who is planning to attend events will be given to the administration, in case contact tracing is needed.
Several parents and community members attended the special meeting to share their desire to attend high school athletic events.
Abby Ayers, a Coudersport mom of a sports family, said she was thrilled when the PIAA announced fall sports could continue, but was disappointed that she wouldn’t be allowed to cheer her kids on.
Ayers said the district is not only excluding the student athletes’ support system, but leaving out those who have a “vested, long-term interest in not only sports, but our school district.”
Rebecca Ross, a mom of three high school students. She has a senior football player and junior soccer player. She said she’s happy that she personally has been able to attend their games. But with the ticket system that was in place, she would have to leave one of her other kids at home.
She said she’s not asking to create any unsafe situations for the community. CARP, where many of Coudersport’s outdoor sports are played, is very large and there is a lot of space not being used, she said, and would be easy for families to social distance while there.
Amy McCratic, a mom two student athletes, said she wants to be able to make her own decision on how she handles her body in her community. She said if someone is “at risk,” then they should stay home.
“If we are not at risk, we should have the opportunity to assemble in any form, as I have in this community in multiple places, being in much tighter spaces than even the bleachers allow us to,” McCratic said.
Megan Watson, a volleyball parent, said she was glad the school allowed the senior parents to attend the home volleyball games. But because they aren’t allowed in the gym, they are all huddled around the door in the hall, trying to see their kids play. The bleachers are empty and people could easily spread out there, she said.
Abby Rossman, a volleyball parent, said the families are going to be infected with germs anyway, so they might as well be allowed to attend the games.
“My child goes to school, she goes and plays her sport with her teammates, she’s touching the ball that all the teammates are touching. And she’s also touching the ball that all the other team is touching, so any of those germs, or whatever you would have, are already coming back to us parents,” Rossman said.
Kyle thanked the public for all of the input and comments. He said the district has been working hard to comply with the the gathering limit, but also worked to get in as many people as they possibly could.“I’m a former athlete myself. I know the value of athletics to our kids, to our community. And I certainly benefit from those myself,” Kyle said. “My son graduated last year, he didn’t have a graduation. He didn’t get a graduation ... so I share your pain and the things that you are missing, and the things your kids are missing out on.”
The board originally voted to allow 25% of the venue’s capacity, but adjusted it to 20% to comply with the latest state order.
The district plans to post more information on its social media on Thursday.